Autograph manuscript, written ca. 1794–95 and transcribed in fair copy soon after 1805
Purchased in 1947
Lady Susan Vernon is the eponymous antihero of Austen's romantic black comedy. Sophisticated, seductive, and amoral, she is characterized by the scholar Marilyn Butler as "a cruising shark in her social goldfish pond." The narrative focuses on the recently widowed Susan's strategic attempts to achieve advantageous marriages for herself and her shy but intractable daughter, Frederica. Her letters, written to multiple recipients, eventually reveal the full extent of her manipulative and duplicitous character. Austen's ironic social observation is sharp and witty and, according to the scholar Christine Alexander, Lady Susan combines "all the free-ranging energy" of Austen's juvenilia "with the polish and sophistication of her later writing."
a motive will never be wanting; & as to money
matters it has not—with—held him from being very
useful to me. I really have a regard for him, he
is so easily imposed on!
The house is a good one, the furniture
fashionable, & everything announces plenty & ele:
:gance. Charles is very rich I am sure; when a
Man has once got his name in a Banking House
he rolls in money. But they do not know what to
do with their fortune, keep very little company,
& never go to Town but on business. — We shall
be as stupid as possible. — I mean to win my
Sister in law's heart through her Children; I know
all their names already, & am going to attach myself
with the greatest sensibility to one in particular, a
young Frederic, whom I take on my lap & sigh over
for his dear Uncle's sake. —
Poor Mainwaring! — I need not tell you
Images provided by DIAMM on behalf of Jane Austen’s Holograph Fiction MSS: A Digital and Print Edition.
Recording of Lady Susan courtesy of Naxos AudioBooks.